The post war period was characterized by American occupation until 1949 and a strong increase of population and economic power during the years of the Wirtschaftswunder (lit.: economic miracle) after 1949.Unlike many other German cities which were heavily bombed and destroyed during World War II, Munich rebuilt most of its traditional cityscape and added a modern face to the city with the Olympic Stadium, while hosting the 1972 Summer Olympics.

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Munich is the third largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, and the 12th biggest city of the European Union, with a population of above 1.5 million.

The city is a major center of art, advanced technologies, finance, publishing, culture, innovation, education, business, and tourism in Germany and Europe and enjoys a very high standard and quality of living, reaching #1 in Germany and #4 worldwide according to the 2015 Mercer survey.

The name of the city is derived from the Old/Middle High German term Munichen, meaning "by the monks". Black and gold—the colours of the Holy Roman Empire—have been the city's official colours since the time of Ludwig the Bavarian, when it was an imperial residence.

In 1918, during the German Revolution, the ruling house of Wittelsbach, which governed Bavaria since 1180, was forced to abdicate in Munich and a short-living socialist republic was declared.

In the 1920s, Munich became home to several political factions, among them the NSDAP, which was founded in the city in 1920.

Though the first attempt of the Nazi movement to overtake the German government in 1923 with the Beer Hall Putsch, which was stopped by the Bavarian police in Munich with gunfire, the Nazis declared the city after their rise to power to be Hauptstadt der Bewegung (lit.: "Capital of the movement").During World War II, Munich was heavily bombed and more than 50% of the entire city and up to 90% of the historic centre were destroyed.It derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who ran a monastery at the place that was later to become the Old Town of Munich; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat of arms. Following a final reunification of the Wittelsbachian Duchy of Bavaria, previously divided and sub-divided for more than 200 years, the town became the country's sole capital in 1506.Catholic Munich was a cultural stronghold of the Counter-Reformation and a political point of divergence during the resulting Thirty Years' War, but remained physically untouched despite an occupation by the Protestant Swedes; as the townsfolk would rather open the gates of their town than risk siege and almost inevitable destruction.Like wide parts of the Holy Roman Empire, the area recovered slowly economically.Having evolved from a duchy's capital into that of an electorate (1623), and later a sovereign kingdom (1806), Munich has been a major European centre of arts, architecture, culture and science since the early 19th century, heavily sponsored by the Bavarian monarchs.